Swiss banks attack US holocaust report

Swiss banks said they refused to be made scapegoats in a long-running battle over compensation to victims of the Jewish holocaust, after they were accused of blocking funds.

    Swiss banks first settled in 1998 though controversy rages on

    According to a report - quoted on Wednesday in the New York Times - Swiss banks cited bank secrecy laws to restrict information to about 4.1 million accounts opened during the Nazi-era between 1933 and 1945.

    The report was compiled by Judah Gribetz, a US lawyer in charge of overseeing the compensation process

    “The Volcker Commission examined all the 4.1 million accounts and picked out 33,000 with possible links to holocaust victims,”  Thomas Sutter, a spokesman for the association of Swiss bankers told AFP.
    "If we now declare these 33,000 accounts, which have been published, are not exhaustive that would indicate the Volcker Commission did not do its work well." 

     “We have strictly respected all the clauses in the global settlement agreement of 1998, based on the work of the (Paul) Volcker Commission,” named after the former president of the US Federal Reserve, Sutter said.
    In 1998, Swiss banks, led by UBS and Credit Suisse, agreed to pay $1.25 billion to settle thousands of claims from holocaust victims or relatives.
    The class action suit arose from an investigation that found some Swiss banks had not returned deposits which people fleeing Nazi persecution had given to them for safekeeping.
    Of the $800 million earmarked for bank depositors and their heirs, Gribetz said only 131.5 million dollars had been received.



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